Facism and the Cost of Silence


I love this poem:

First they came…

In Germany, they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist;

And then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;

And then they came for the Jews, and i didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;

And then… they came for me… and by that time there was no one left to speak up

There is some controversy about the source of this poem but it is widely attributed Pastor Martin Niemoller, a former Nazi supporter.


I love this poem, but I do not live this life.  I never DO anything.  I try to stay aware and educated, I make contributions to appropriate causes, I inform myself before voting, I ALWAYS vote, and now I write about my perceptions of what’s going on in this world.  But that’s not really doing anything.  What will it cost to continue doing nothing? 

If fascism comes [to America] it will come because of the silence, and thus, collaboration of those who think themselves good, and certainly superior to the knuckle-draggers they can see on YouTube at the McCain rallies, but who in the end are no better and in some ways worse than they: after all, at least fascists stand up for what they believe in. They are telling us, in no uncertain terms what kind of United States they want and are willing to fight for, and maybe even to kill for. But many “progressives,” many liberals, many of the so-called enlightened are doing nothing at all.

If fascism comes it will come because those liberals thought voting for Barack Obama was all they needed to do; it will come because they allowed themselves to believe that politics is what a person does every four years, but not at work, and not in the neighborhood, and not at the dinner table.

“This is How Fascism Comes: Reflections on the Cost of Silence”
By Tim Wise
October 12, 2008

Full text, via Small Town Gay Blog

Is America becoming a fascist nation?  Is the US a more or less dangerous place today than it was when I was born, or during the Vietnam War, or the before the Civil War?  Have things gotten progressively better, worse, stayed the same, all of the above?

Naomi Wolf seems to think worse.  You may not agree with her, but it’s interesting listening.


I have always felt overly-dramatic, reactionary, impolite, self-obsessed and, gasp, like a conspiracy theorist… when I get “all worked up about things”; which is an essay-worthy topic on it’s own.  How have progressives and liberals (some of us at least, me included) come to believe our passions are not worthy of giving a voice too, educating our children about, fighting for?  Is it complacency, Puritan restraint, intellectual disassociation?  I don’t know, I just know I’m sick of it.  It’s boring.  It’s dangerous.  It’s self-denial.  I am rabidly passionate about certain things, but I shove them back down my polite throat and it’s choking me.  Enough is fucking enough.


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